Celebrating Special Education Inclusion and the Forgotten Children

Author: Kathleen M. Cleaver
Published: 2024/03/13
Post type: Informative
Content: SummaryMajor – Related Posts

Synopsis: Kathleen M. Cleaver writes about special education inclusion, Education for All (EHA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and forgotten children. Before PL94-142 was passed, many children with disabilities, especially those with co-occurring disabilities, were excluded from or experienced limited access to the educational system. With the approval of Education for All (EHA), public schools opened their doors to children with disabilities. Resource rooms and special education classrooms were created, staffed by teachers with special education degrees.

Main summary

The law

On November 29, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the Education for All (EHA) for Handicapped Children Act (PL94-142) giving children with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). PL 94-142 also contained a provision that disabled students were to be placed in the least restrictive environment, one that allowed the maximum possible opportunity to interact with non-disabled students.

Before PL94-142 was passed, many children with disabilities, especially those with co-occurring disabilities, were excluded from or experienced limited access to the educational system. My sister, who was born with co-occurring disabilities, was one of those girls who was denied FAPE. In 1990, the EHA was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), thus removing the word disabled from the law. IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.

A brief history

With the passage of the EHA, public schools opened their doors to children with disabilities. Resource rooms and special education classrooms were created, staffed by teachers with special education degrees. Children with intellectual, sensory and physical disabilities enrolled in public schools. Children with intellectual disabilities were classified as educable, trainable, or severely and profoundly disabled (SPI) and were placed accordingly.

Before the special EHC, children who had a normal IQ but had learning difficulties had difficulty in the regular classroom and were often labeled as low achievers. English language learners (ELLs) were lost in regular education classrooms.

Today, under IDEA, children with disabilities have the right to be educated in the least restrictive environment (LEA). Individual Education Plans (IEPs) provide teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (where applicable) the opportunity to work together. to improve the educational outcomes of a child with a disability (U.S. Department of Education). Educational placements range from a separate special education school to full inclusion in a general education classroom.

A personal vision

I have witnessed the growth and changes in special education as a brother, parent, and teacher. I taught in a residential setting, a special education school, a resource room, home school, and in an inclusive setting. I have read the praise for inclusion and the criticism of special education classrooms. IDEA does not use the word inclusion. (Wrightslaw.com) LRE is different for every child. Children change. LRE is not stagnant. It is not a special education or general education classroom. It is an environment that addresses adaptations and modifications for a child in the current moment.

The forgotten children

As with any new idea or innovation in education, it is often considered the panacea to fixing our education system. While I believe inclusion in special education is beneficial for some students, full inclusion is not a panacea for all students. I have read stories and watched videos about children with autism, learning differences, and Down syndrome making progress in the general education curriculum. That is fantastic! But what about children whose intellectual decline is so severe that, even with modifications, the general education curriculum has no meaning for them?

What about the blind child who benefits from intense instruction in braille and adaptive technology in a resource room with a teacher certified to teach children with visual impairments (TVI) before moving to a general education classroom?

What about the child who is deaf and uses sign language to communicate and wants to be with his deaf peers?

What about the child whose behavior, even with interventions, disrupts the classroom?

I know these kids.

I taught these children.

While a special education classroom is not an appropriate placement for all children who have an IEP, it is a panacea for children who need a small group setting with a full-time special education teacher. Full inclusion of all disabilities can be as disruptive as an all-disability special education classroom.

Continuing special education services are imperative to plan an appropriate education for all children! The LRE is different for each child because each child is different.

Let’s recognize and celebrate all children!

Author Credentials:

Kathleen M. Cleaver has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and education of children whose primary disability is visual impairment (TVI). During her thirty-year career as a teacher, Kathleen received the Penn-Del AER Elinor Long Award and the AER Membership Award for her service and contributions to the education of children with visual impairments. She also received the Elizabeth Nolan O’Donnell Achievement Award for years of dedicated service to St. Lucy Day School for Visually Impaired Children. Explore Kathleen’s full biography to get complete information about her background, experience and achievements.

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Permanent link: Celebrating inclusion in special education and forgotten children

Cite this page (APA): Kathleen M. Cleaver. (2024, March 13). Celebrating inclusion in special education and forgotten children. Disabled world. Retrieved March 14, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/blogs/forgotten-children.php

Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never intended to be a substitute for qualified professional medical care. Any third party offers or advertisements do not constitute an endorsement.

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